Basements are an integral part of many homes, offering additional living or storage space. However, they are also prone to moisture problems, which can lead to mold growth, structural damage, and other issues and costs. Waterproofing basement walls is essential to prevent these problems and maintain a healthy living environment while also keeping money in your pocket. In this guide, we’ll explore seven effective methods to waterproof your basement walls so you can enjoy the additional square footage below your main floor.
1. Understand the Source of Moisture
Before diving into waterproofing solutions, it’s crucial to determine where the moisture is coming from in the first place. Is it seeping through cracks in the walls, up from the floor, or is it a result of condensation? Conducting a simple condensation test using aluminum foil can help identify the source.
To conduct this test, cut out a square piece of aluminum foil and attach it to the wall using tape, ensuring all four sides are sealed tightly. Let the foil remain in place for 24 hours. After the set period, remove the foil and check for moisture. If moisture appears on the outer side of the foil facing the room, it indicates that the problem is condensation from the interior.
However, if moisture is present behind the foil, against the wall, it signifies that water is infiltrating from the outside, and waterproofing measures are required. Identifying the source ensures that you apply the right waterproofing method, saving time and resources.
2. Fill Cracks with Hydraulic Cement
Houses, as they age, naturally undergo a process called settling. This settling happens because of shifts in the ground, changing soil conditions, and the weight of the structure itself pressing down on the foundation. As a result, basements, which are generally the foundational part of a house, will frequently develop cracks. These cracks, however small or large, become gateways for water to seep in, especially during rainy seasons or if there’s a high water table in the area.
To remedy this, homeowners can use hydraulic cement to fill in these cracks. What’s particularly beneficial about hydraulic cement is its unique property to expand as it dries, which means that it not only fills but also seals the crack against any future water intrusion.
By regularly monitoring and addressing these cracks, homeowners will be able to better maintain the integrity of their basements, safeguarding the structure against potential water damage and the myriad of problems it can lead to, such as mold growth or structural damage.
3. Apply Masonry Waterproofing Products
For bare interior basement walls, consider applying a masonry waterproofing product. These products seal the walls and prevent moisture from seeping through. Before application, ensure the wall is clean and free from any paint or efflorescence. These products form a barrier, ensuring that even during heavy rainfall, your basement remains dry.
If you’re not comfortable doing this, there are plenty of capable companies in your local area prepared to take on the task. It’s a good idea to call around to several to determine which is best for you and your situation.
4. Address Window Well Leaks
Window wells can be a common source of leaks. To stop this kind of a situation, ensure that the area around the window well is properly graded to direct water away. Installing a sloped window well cover can also help in diverting rainwater. Regular maintenance and checking for blockages ensure that window wells don’t become a moisture entry point.
5. Install an Interior Drainage System
Consider installing a drainage channel beneath the floor inside the basement. This system collects water that enters the basement and directs it to a sump pump, which then expels the water outside, keeping the basement dry. This method is especially effective in areas prone to heavy rainfall or if your home is located in a low-lying area.
One thing to keep in mind is with a sump pump you will have to do occasional checks and replacements on the equipment. It’s suggested that you get a new sump pump about every 10 years. Make sure you check the area frequently, especially during high moisture conditions, to make sure it’s still running properly, or you could be dealing with a flooded basement!
6. Exterior Waterproofing Options
While more expensive and labor-intensive, exterior waterproofing is one of the most effective methods. It involves excavating around the house, applying a waterproof membrane to the foundation walls, and installing a drainage system. This basement waterproofing method prevents water from ever reaching the basement walls in the first place, ensuring long-term protection against moisture for the building
7. Maintain Gutters and Downspouts
Finally, one of the simplest yet most effective ways to prevent basement moisture is to maintain your home’s gutters and downspouts. Check to be sure that they are free from debris and are adequately directing water away from the foundation. It prevents water from pooling around the foundation and seeping into the basement area. Regular cleaning and maintenance will help to prevent costly repairs in the future.
Waterproofing Basement Walls Takeaway
Waterproofing basement walls is essential for maintaining a dry, healthy living space. By understanding the source of moisture and employing the methods mentioned above, homeowners can effectively protect their basements from water damage. Remember, prevention is always better than cure. By taking proactive steps, you can save time, money, and avoid potential health risks.
If you’re looking for professional assistance in waterproofing basement walls, Boston Basement Waterproofing & Repair is here to help. With years of experience and expertise, we ensure your basement will remain dry and safe.